The United States has warned the Solomon Islands that it will retaliate if China installs a “permanent military presence” in that Pacific archipelago after signing a controversial security agreement, the White House said Friday.
A high-level US delegation that visited the Solomon Islands explained to local leaders that if Beijing moved to “establish a de facto military presence”, it would raise “serious concerns” for the United States, which “will retaliate as a result”, the US presidency said in a statement.
It also applies in the case of fixing any “military installation” or “force projection capability” that allows a Chinese deployment in the region, he said.
Emissaries from the White House and the US State Department were in the Solomon Islands today, where they met with Solomonic Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
“In response to the concerns raised, Prime Minister Sogavare reiterated his assurances that there will be no military base, long-term presence and ability to project force,” according to the statement.
“The United States emphasized that it would closely monitor developments in consultation with its regional partners.”
The US delegation also insisted on the “potential implications for regional security”, contesting, during “substantial discussions”, “the objective, scope and transparency of the agreement”.
But nevertheless, the Americans guaranteed to “respect the right” of the Solomon Islands to make “its sovereign decisions”.
Washington also pointed to accelerating the opening of a US embassy, strengthening cooperation on unexploded mines, sending a hospital ship for public health assistance or delivering additional vaccines.
The two countries also pledged to launch a “high-level dialogue” that will focus on security in particular.
China announced Tuesday that it had signed a far-reaching security agreement with the Solomon Islands, at a time when several Western countries, led by the United States, accuse Beijing of having military ambitions in the Pacific.
“The foreign ministers of China and the Solomon Islands have recently signed an agreement for cooperation on security,” Chinese diplomacy spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.
Last month, a preliminary version of the agreement was released, causing a shock wave because it included authorizations for China to establish military and naval bases in that Pacific archipelago.
In early April, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured that he would not allow the construction of a Chinese military base in the country, but the ruler’s declaration was not enough to calm the fears of Australia and its allies.
Australia is a neighbor of the Solomon Islands, located about 1,500 kilometers from the archipelago.
Both Canberra and Washington have been concerned for some time that China could build a naval base in the South Pacific that would allow it to project maritime power far beyond its borders.
Source: With Agencies